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Your course will begin in Miami, Florida where the shuttle will pick you up and transport you to your boat at Big Pine Key. Here you will meet your watch mates and get a basic introduction to your boat and briefings on emergency procedures. You will soon cast off lines and begin your adventure on the water. All courses are “expedition-based,” which means that you will leave the dock on the first day of your course and not return to it until the end of your course. You will travel with all you need to conduct your expedition: stoves, shelters, food and water, etc. You will row or sail nearly every day, developing skills as you travel along your planned route. Bathing occurs daily with an ocean swim. There are no showers, no bathrooms, no telephones, no television or many other modern luxuries that you may be accustomed to. You should come to your course physically and emotionally prepared for and excited about devoting all of your time and energy to your expedition, your group and your Outward Bound experience.
Arriving physically fit will enhance your experience and ability to do well on the course and ultimately allow you to take full advantage of the expedition. If you are interested in the essential eligibility criteria we use to screen participants, please refer to this document. We will teach you everything you need to know: sail handling, steering, anchoring, navigating using chart and compass, and living comfortably aboard a small open boat.
The 30-foot open sailboat is your home and classroom. Our boats are very seaworthy, fun to operate, and perfect for a team adventure. The boats are rigged to take full advantage of the power of the subtropical trade winds, and when the winds do not cooperate, the boats can be rowed by two or four people pulling on oars. At night the boat can be configured as a sleeping platform and you and your watch mates will take turns doing anchor watch under brilliant night skies. Underway, you will learn to adjust sails properly for sailing at different angles to the wind and execute sailing maneuvers like tacking and gybing, which turn the boat through the wind. As you practice rowing, you will discover that by coordinating all of the rower’s movements so that the oars splash as one, you halve the effort it takes to travel on windless days. You will learn to navigate using a chart and compass and among the thick and similar-looking mangrove islands, precision in plotting your course and concentration on the environment around you will prove essential in arriving accurately at your destination. It takes an entire crew to sail or row the boat well; the whole crew must participate mentally and physically. In addition to the challenges of moving the boat, living together aboard this small vessel requires commitment to the support of your crew-mates, and your community as a whole. As your expedition progresses, your accomplishments in all these areas result in a truly memorable journey.
The solo experience is a standard element of Outward Bound courses. With sufficient food and equipment, you will set up camp at a site on your own. The solo will last anywhere from a few hours to a few days, depending on the length of your course. Your solo site is chosen to offer as much solitude as possible, yet be within hearing distance of other group members. You will not travel during this time alone, and your instructors will check on you occasionally. The solitude and break from the fast pace of your expedition allows for rest and personal reflection, which is necessary to make the most of your experience.
Our courses end with a Personal Challenge Event, an individual final physical push. These events might take the form of a running, rowing or swimming activity, or it may be a combination of the three. This event is a chance to finish your Outward Bound Experience with a true personal challenge where you can own all of your decisions and efforts in contrast to the time you have spent operating within an expedition team.
Open Boat Sailing Skills
The essential goal of any Outward Bound course is for the students to learn autonomy. Our expedition curriculum supports this happening in a progressive way.
During the first third of a course (a phase called “training expedition”), the instructors are very present in the group. They teach outdoor skills, the technical aspects of the activities and guide the students as they form a team.
In the middle third of the course (what we call the “main expedition”), the instructors take a step back so students may step forward. Students begin to teach what they’ve already learned to each other, and experiment with applying basic skills to bigger challenges. The instructors continue to coach and support as the students practice leadership roles. When the group meets a particular situation, environment or activity they haven’t learned about before, the instructors jump back in and teach. Each time this happens, the group reaches competency more quickly.
By the last third of the course (the “final expedition”), students are the stars of the show. They are applying what they know, leading each other, setting goals, and solving problems collaboratively. The instructors are close by and ready to step back in to prevent a safety issue from occurring but will let students find their own resiliency when they make mistakes, and ensure they feel the full spotlight of success when they meet their goals.
Your course area in the Florida Keys is home to numerous birds and abundant marine life, is rich with the confluence of water flowing out of the Everglades into inner Florida Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. The waterways are shallow and intricate, providing an exciting cruising area for Outward Bound’s nimble shallow-draft sailboats.
Sailing courses cruise in three general areas. The backcountry offers challenging shoal draft navigation and the opportunity to explore mangrove keys, tidal flats and coral patch reefs. The Atlantic side offers excellent snorkeling at the outer reefs and open water sailing. The Everglades has beautiful sand beaches and a maze of rivers and bays to explore. Throughout the region, the turquoise waters, warm temperatures and prevailing easterly winds provide exceptional sailing, both day and night! Actual itineraries are based on weather, currents and length of course.
In Florida the HIOBS course area regions are the ancestral lands of the Seminole, Matecumbe, Cuchiyaga and Guarungumbe nations.
On your HIOBS program, you will learn four important Outward Bound Core Values:
Some of the most important lessons you take home are learning about yourself and your community while acquiring backcountry skills and having an adventure. As you will be traveling through wild places on your expedition, you’ll also learn to protect and appreciate the unique, unspoiled environments through which you travel.
After the physical and interpersonal intensity of war, reintegrating back into civilian life can be profoundly challenging. Outward Bound 6-day courses for veterans are opportunities for participants to share camaraderie, stories, and support, and to apply their proven organizational and teamwork skills towards common goals in a beautiful peaceful setting. After course, participants report greater self-confidence, and experience healthier and more balanced lives. The expedition may only last a week, but the strength of the experience will be with you for a lifetime.
Our Veterans Programs are designed to be fun, fast and challenging, and suited for those in good physical condition. We make the most of the organizational and teamwork skills you learned in the military to move groups straight into the field. Once on expedition, Outward Bound training will bring you up to speed on our wilderness travel expectations. Leadership skills will be tested as participants take over responsibility for the crew and make community plans and decisions. Our staff, sometimes Veterans themselves, have extensive experience in sailing, backpacking, climbing, canoeing, and working with groups. Rely on them for information and safety, but ultimately the success of the experience rests with you and your fellow veterans.
In the wilderness, the only things you and your fellow veterans have to work with is the gear you bring along, your skills, abilities and each other. As a community, the group works together to deal with decisions about navigation, camp locations, duties, and chain of command, while helping each other overcome obstacles and meet challenges.
Removed from the distractions of every day life, you create a safe learning environment with your teammates in a wilderness environment. Take this opportunity to compare learnings and get advice from other people who are adjusting to life after military life. Very often this is the first time participants have had a chance to discuss their challenges in a supportive, non-confrontational forum surrounded by fellow veterans and the beauty of the country for which they have fought.
The only expense to you is in your time, getting the correct clothing and footwear, and any incidentals - like food associated with travel. Outward Bound and the generous donors who make our Veterans Programs possible are making a significant commitment to our military service members.
It is imperative that, once you commit, you follow through and attend the course. If you cancel for reasons other than deployment, you will assume financial responsibility for the plane tickets purchased for you rather than deplete the funds generously provided by our donors and you will be charged a Cancellation Fee. Our investment in planning, staffing, and provisioning cannot be recovered in the event of short notice cancellations. If you have to cancel due to some unforeseen emergency, please let your Course Advisor know immediately, as given enough time, we can most likely make your space available to another veteran.
Below is your Admissions Process!
These are the steps you will need to take to complete your application:
After all the Admissions Forms have been completed you will be in Application Review for medical/mental health, motivation, & understanding. This step may include additional forms and/or a phone call to gather more information about your specific situation.
Once your Application has been Reviewed, you will be invited to an Applicant Phone Interview
After the Interview is complete and there are no follow up questions, you will be Cleared to Participate
Please pay attention to the due dates listed in your Welcome Email. If due dates are not met, you risk losing your position on course - our policies on cancellations and deadlines are outlined in the Admissions Handbook.
If you are having trouble getting the information together, or have any questions at all, please contact your Course Advisor immediately so we can help you.
You are welcome to bring extras of the items marked with a plus (+) sign. Where a range of quantities is indicated, e.g., “1-2” bring the smaller quantity if you are on a one-week course, and the larger quantity if your course is 10 days or longer. There are multiple brand name options available at varying prices. The clothing and equipment on this list is widely available in many places. Specialty outdoor stores like L.L.Bean, REI, Campmorand Eastern Mountain Sportswill have a range of appropriate items to choose from. Discount retailers, like Sierra Trading Postand the REI Garage often have good prices on name-brand gear and clothing. You may also locate many first- quality clothing and equipment items at military surplus stores and area consignment stores and thrift stores, such as Goodwilland The Salvation Army.
The HIOBS website has some great items. A complete collection of HIOBS-recommended-for-course items can be found HERE. Please contact your course advisor for suggestions.
Packing several light layers rather than fewer heavier layers allows you more flexibility as the weather and workloads change. Inner layers should fit closely, middle layers should fit loosely and outer layers should be just a little bit baggy. When shopping or packing, it is a good idea to try on your layers together.
Before your expedition, your instructors will check your gear; they will assess your clothing with the actual route and the anticipated weather in mind. Items you don’t take on expedition will be stored safely at base. We suggest leaving the tags on any items you purchase in case you don’t actually pack them for expedition, but please note that you should check with each store to see what their return policies are. If there are items that you would like to bring but which are not mentioned on this list, feel free to call and ask your course advisor at 855-802-0307.
Tick- and mosquito-borne diseases are an increasing risk of traveling in the wild regions of the Americas, including our course areas in Maine, New Hampshire, Florida, the Bahamas, and Costa Rica. Fortunately, there are prevention steps that are very effective and, in most cases, treatment is relatively simple and recovery complete, so long as the diagnosis is made early. Students and their families should educate themselves on the risks, prevention measures, and signs and symptoms of tick-borne illnesses.
Since prevention is always better than treatment, we STRONGLY recommend pre-treating your footwear, long pants, long-sleeve shirts, jackets and hats with a chemical barrier containing permethrin, at least two days before traveling to your course. Applied correctly and allowed to dry before wearing, the treatment remains effective for up to a month. For even longer-lasting protection, you can either purchase clothing with permethrin embedded within it, or send your clothes to Insect Shield®, who will treat them and ship them back to you, ready for your course. Use the Coupon Code “HIOBS” to receive a 15% discount on both clothing and treatment services at this website (please note that you need to use the coupon separately for products/ service).
For more information, please download our Vector-Borne Disease General Fact Sheet.
Florida is generally warm and sunny, but during the winter cold fronts are common and there is usually plenty of wind, so you will need to bring warm clothes. The sun can be intense, making sun protection (sun screen & clothing) very important. Temperatures at night can fall to the 40s and even lower in December and January. Daytime temperatures range from the 50s to 80s from December to April, so come prepared for all possibilities.
These are NOT required items. Please only buy them if you plan to use them outside of your course.
Please note that Outward Bound provides all other equipment, including (but not limited to):
Your travel may ONLY be arranged AFTER Final Clearance from Admissions, which includes notification that the course has met its minimum enrollment (usually 6). Once you have been Cleared and receive confirmation to book travel you will work with Donna Evans (travel agent) to arrange flights. You can contact Donna via email: [email protected]
Please review the times and locations for Course Start and Course End as you plan your travel to and from course. You should also be familiar with the information on the COVID-19 Health and Safety page.
Do not purchase any travel tickets until your Course Advisor has given the "go-ahead" to book travel for your course. This message will be in either your Cleared to Participate email or a separate message confirming the course is cleared to book travel.
Travel details (flights and drop-offs) are due to your Course Advisor 7 days before your course start date. This helps our airport shuttle teams get organized and ensures we have enough seats available for all students needing a ride. You will receive a Travel Form link from your course advisor. Please complete this form, even if you are being dropped off by car.
Students flying without an adult/guardian may need to bring an ID when traveling to and/or from course. If you need to obtain a non-driver ID card, please see your local Department of Motor Vehicles office. For more information, go to www.dmv.org/id-cards.php.
Once you are Cleared to Participate, you will receive instructions for contacting our travel agent to arrange your flights.
Arrival Location: Miami International Airport (MIA), 2100 NW 42nd Ave, Miami, FL 33142
Students need to be in Miami by 8:30am the morning of course start. If you need to fly into Miami the day before, we can arrange for a hotel room for you as well as the flight. Keep in mind you will likely be sharing the room with another student on the course.
Your Course Advisor will let you know where to meet the shuttle that will transport the group to our base on Big Pine Key for your course start.
If you think it makes more sense for you to arrive directly at the Outward Bound base, please contact your Course Advisor to discuss alternate arrangements.
Departure Location: Miami International Airport (MIA), 2100 NW 42nd Ave, Miami, FL 33142
We will arrange transportation back to Miami at course end. The shuttle will arrive at Miami International Airport (MIA) around 12:00 PM.
We cannot guarantee that you will be able to make a flight before 1:30 pm, so please book a flight that leaves after that time.
If you think it makes more sense for you to depart directly from the Outward Bound base, please contact your Course Advisor to discuss alternate arrangements.
If you encounter changes to your travel plans after you have submitted your Travel Form, please contact your Course Advisor to update them about the change.
If you encounter problems with your travel plans that will delay your arrival, please call 855-802-0307. Follow the prompts to reach the on-call staff member for your course.
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